Friday, February 27, 2009

FUNK MUNDIAL #8 (Man Recordings, ‘09)

I remember back in the 90’s when I first heard of funk Carioca. It was probably through Xuxa’s TV show. I was a hardcore hip-hop fan and eventually got deep into Brazilian rap, which is saying Paulista rap, because with one or two exceptions coming out from Rio, all the good Brazilian rap artists were based in São Paulo.
People in São Paulo are snobby and look down on Rio de Janeiro and their cheesyness and that was particularly evident in the hip-hop world. Paulista rappers used to make fun and not give any credit to Cariocas because of that silly music they called funk but wasn’t really funk, it was just Miami Bass, which they kept alive throughout the 90’s, way after the Miami characteristic sound was dead in the US and the world. As a result of this, and because of my close relationship with the biggest names in Brazilian “real” hip-hop, I too used to look down on funk Carioca, or favela funk, considering it a stupid local phenomenon that would never go beyond Rio de Janeiro’s outskirts.
Then in 2002 somebody in Great Britain “discovered” funk Carioca and decided to export it to Euro dancefloors and the whole movement gained international exposure. It was then that I finally started paying attention to that music that I used to consider embarrassingly bad and I found many similarities with another type of shanty-town music which I was more familiar with: the Argentinean cumbia villera.
Indeed, favela funk and cumbia villera have a lot in common. Besides being music genres that evolved within the most marginalized sectors of society (while danced to “ironically” by rich white kids) they also share the unapologetic naughtyness of the lyrics that combine criminal life stories, with ghetto pride and explicit hardcore sex.
So it was not at all unexpected to find this record which includes four favela funk songs remixed by neo-cumbia producers from the Zizek camp: El Remolón, Chancha Via Circuito, Douster and my very favorites Frikstailers. Frikstailers have already been experimenting with the Rio sound for a while now (see Baile Frik) so it wasn’t a surprise from them, they are experts in the field and probably pioneers with this music genre in Argentina. The other three are a bit stranger and I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in a experimental way, like for example, what Chancha did with his track is way too weird to spin at a Brazilian party, but I will most probably include it in one of my chaotic mixtapes. Anyway, they are only four tracks (plus the acapellas) so listen to them and buy them if you want to, great for this Carnaval times!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm not a Nacionalista but...

I recently received a bunch of Nacional Records releases and I won't review them all because then you'll think that I'm getting paid by Nacional, which in fact is something that I'd love to, since I'm currently underemployed. But no, Nacional doesn't pay me to promote their releases, I just happen to love them all, (well, most of them, not that Intoxicados crap...) and they are the ONLY US-based Latin music record label with decent taste (OK, Bersa Discos isn't bad at all, but the rest are all cheesy).
Anyway, here are some quick uninspired reviews (more actually first impressions) of what I got in the mail:

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs - La Luz Del Ritmo: I used to listen to this guys back when I was in elementary school and they were a ska band doing covers of The Clash. A long, and I mean LONG, time went by, they became a cheesy Latin music ensemble, then a commercially successful international act, then a pretentious art-jazz-rock whatever, then they broke up and now they reunited and went back to making covers of The Clash. The album is full of unnecessary new versions of old songs plus one gem: the cumbia "Padre Nuestro" with Cumbia Villera's spiritual leader, Pablo Lescano, as a guest. I've been playing this track for a while now, and I'll keep on playing it throughout all 2009.

RH+ - Quintana Roo: I have no fucking idea what is this all about, they have a Virgen de Guadalupe in the cover which would usually be a HUGE red flag, but in this case I guess it's an ironic thingy because the music tries to emulate Stereolab and hipster-chronic-wanker-sensitive-white-boy bullshit like that, in English. I guess there must be some Latinos out there who dress in American Apparel and are into this stuff, not me. Anyhow, there's an instrumental track with turntablism that I digged but I'm too lazy to go back and try to find which one was it. I definitely need to give it a second listen.

Gonzalo Yañez-Gonzalo Yañez: I was sure this one was going to suck because the picture of the cover reminds me of those guys who sit all day at the coffee shops in Valencia St and write in their journals with lovely handwritting. Plus, it doesn't have a title. But it was published by Nacional so I had to give it a chance and it actually wasn't too bad, at moments it sounds like radio-oriented rock which is a bummer, but then it redeems itself with some very original lyrics and melodies that remind me of the good times of Andrés Calamaro and Fito Páez. The only problem here, it's full of break up songs and I can't relate at all because I haven't had a break up in ages (meaning: I haven't had a relationship in ages). Last time I went through a rough break up my album of choice was Honestidad Brutal, so go figure.

Fidel - Crucial Cuts: If this guy didn't take himself and rastafarsim so seriously he would be a lot of fun to listen to. In fact, he used to be a lot of fun to listen to during his ska-punk times with Todos Tus Muertos and I even liked him quite a bit with the dancehall trio Lumumba. But then he dived way too deep into religious rastafarism and started releasing like twenty new albums a year and well... it was a little too much. Thankfully my friends at Nacional had the great idea of releasing just the best songs from his over-prolific period in this comp that includes, once again, a contribution by Pablo Lescano.

Señot Coconut - Around The World: German dude over here lived in Chile where he discovered Latin tropical old-school music and gave it a techno twist and the results were quite fascinating a few years ago. In this new release he makes tropi-muzak covers of famous Anglo songs like the Daft Punk classic that gives the album its title. Unfortunately there's a lot of mambo and cha cha cha but not cumbia. So I'll keep spinning those cumbia tracks from his previous release (El Baile Alemán, which they also sent me, thanks again Nacional!) and keep this new one on the side until the neo-mambo fever kicks in.